Booklist - Hardscrabble
Belle is a young eastern Colorado pioneer enthralled by her new home. Her older sister Carrie is not quite as happy—she loved their old home in green, heavily-settled Iowa. The life of dry earth farmers in the early 1900s was exceedingly tough, and the family of nine struggles. When illness claims the girls’ mother and younger sister, the future seems precarious, especially Carrie’s hope to go to college and become a teacher. Plucky Belle, though, won’t give up and a community of disparate settlers—a lonely hermit, a generous ranching family, a lively bachelorette homesteader—come together to help.
Perseverance, that eternal ethos of settler sagas, is personified in Belle, who even schemes at matchmaking. The standard plot points of many pioneer stories are touched on: plagues of locusts, blizzards, and even a solitary bad guy scared off by intrepid heroines. Dallas, a prolific author of adult westerns, and a Spur Award winner, has written a story young readers drawn to historical fiction like the Little House series will find satisfying.